John Walshaw with Animal Management Students in Lambing Shed

Lambing Season at Houghall Amazing Experience for Animal Management Students

Fri, 2019-03-15 10:28

Lambing season is upon us, and it's proving to be a truly moving, fantastic experience for Level 3 Animal Management students at EDC's Houghall campus, who are helping to bring the new baby lambs into the world.

The lambing season is an excellent experience for our learners, as it is one of the only opportunities they may get to see an actual live birth during their course. As experienced, Level 3 students, they are on-hand to support ewes during the birthing process, and to ensure that the new lambs are healthy going forward.

To begin, students were tasked with sorting ewes according to how many lambs they were expected to give birth to (sorted into 1, 2 and 3), using applied mathematics skills to separate the ewes by pen size and stocking density. 

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John Walshaw, who is the Programme Area Leader for L3 Animal Management and Veterinary Nursing at Houghall, described the experience for the students: 

"No lambs had been born in the previous 3 hours of lessons, so three students were asked to stay back in case there in case there was any activity. We watched patiently from 4 until 5 with some potential signs of lambing from one ewe in particular, but with nothing convincing. Then, just as we'd called it a day, I turned around and another ewe had just started lambing." said John. "We then prepared to deliver the lambs, washed our hands/arms and applied lubricant gel, and then with guidance from me I allowed two of the learners to feel and identify the lamb's presentation, correct it and safely and carefully deliver the lamb and check its breathing.

"As soon as we'd done this, another ewe we had been looking at started lambing too, and our third learner provided assistance to the lamb and delivered it. We then watched the second lambs' natural birth, separated both sets of twins and ewes into separate lambing pens and then recorded all of the ewe and lamb details in our files."

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The three learners, Shannon Thompson, Elle Anderson and Byron Bell, have been at Houghall for three years and not seen a live birth. They found the entire experience magical and described as one of their most memorable experiences during their course. After the births, all of the learners kept checking up on the ewes and new born lambs, who are all a picture of health.

This marks the first year at Houghall where we have created a brand new lambing shed - affectionally known as 'the sheep hotel' - at the old Houghall farm site. The new shed, which includes movable and future-proof pens for future lambing seasons, is utilising the old dog agility area of the Houghall site, which has been unused since the Houghall redevelopment two years ago. The shed has been used for a lot over the years - back in 1985, it was a milking parlour!

John Walshaw is absolutely thrilled with the new lambing shed, saying: "I just want to thank all involved in creating this new - "old" - lambing shed and making the resources used during lambing. It's great to reuse the old Houghall site to create a superb learning environment for our learners, and it allows multiple groups of learners on courses including Agriculture, Foundation and Animal Care/Management to access it to observe sheep material behaviours, as well as lambing itself and general sheep/lamb tasks. I'm sure for this reason the new shed is worth its weight in gold, and a similar one will be built in the future.

"Experiences like yesterday evening and fostering a triplet lamb onto a single in my lesson on Tuesday are truly the Piece De Resistance of my teaching repertoire, and I truly love this aspect of my very varied job at Houghall. It really is the highlight of the year, and I'm sure our students would agree with me too!"

A huge thank you must go out from all of us at EDC to the hard work and dedication of our students, who have proved to be invaluable during the lambing season this year.

With all that said, it's now time to take a look at some photos of the amazing new born lambs at our Houghall campus!

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